Preakness Prediction 2023

After my mediocre predictions for the Kentucky Derby, I figured I’d dash off a brief missive for what I always see as the weakest portion of the Triple Crown.

Weakest since (1) the field is always pretty small – this year, it’s 8 horses. Compare that to the 20 that run in the Derby and (2) Coming only 3 weeks after the Derby, unless the Derby winner is a total dominating standout, most often it means that the Derby winner can be eliminated from most picks since the other horses in the field will be better rested. This same angle works very well with the upcoming Belmont, knocking out whatever horses have run in the Preakness and especially those that have run in both the Derby & Preakness.

But anyway…. the two best horses in this one are Derby winner #3 Mage, the 8/5 morning line favorite, and then my pick, #8 First Mission right now at 5/2, but will probably come down to even money by post-time as more and more people, like me, figure Mage can be outrun here by a fresh horse whose times & speed are an even match.

With only 8 horses, the exotic combo pools won’t be very big. So I’ll just be watching, switching momentarily from the Yankee game. I’ll save my betting dollars for the Belmont in a few weeks.

UPDATE: Just like with the Derby, every horse I pick gets scratched. Let’s see how many horses I can take out of the Belmont in a few weeks. Exciting finish, tho.

Kentucky Derby 2023 Predictions

How much money will I blow on this one? Dunno. It’s looking like maybe fifty bucks spread out on a few combo bets based on my overall picks for this year’s derby. But since you probably landed here looking for any sort of opinion and someone else’s painstakingly-perfect handicapping, here goes:

MORNING OF RACE UPDATE: And now favorite Forte has also been scratched. I guess for me that leaves Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire & Mandarin Hero as my top three. I’ll figure out my combos before post time since it feels like there’ll be another dozen scratches at this rate. Geesh.

I think the two best horses in the race are the early moneyline favorite #15 Forte at 3-1, with 6 lifetime victories out of 7 races. All the speed, class and works numbers look good for this year’s Florida Derby winner, and even though trainer Todd Pletcher has a lot more disappointment tan victory in this race historically, he might have a winner here. (In case you’re curious – Pletcher holds the record for entries all time with 62, and he’s only won twice. He’s got 3 horses in this year’s contest.)

UPDATE! My other pick for winner has been scratched. I left my original part of the post below, but I’ll have to reconfigure my preferred picks & choose a new backup to Forte. I first leaned towards #5 Tapit Trice, but the more I thought about it and with the recent scratch of #9 Skinner, my wildcard possibility #22 Mandarin Hero will be part of my in-the-money choices. Not sure he could win, though… between a history of strong second places and the far-outside post position, it’ll be a tough trip for him. But he likes to get out in front, and now he’s the only horse left standing from the Santa Anita Derby prep. Could he pull this off and surprise everyone? I think I’m throwing him into my win column!

I’d put #10 Practical Move (10-1) on an even keel with Forte, however. Practical Move has improved steadily since his debut, has won his last three races in a row, and has class/speed/works numbers at the top of this field. I have a bias towards Santa Anita Derby winners too, partially since that’s the track I follow and also since SA Derby winners have fared well in the last several years at Churchill Downs. So I’ll be betting both #10 and #15 in the win column.

Rounding out my field for exotic bets: The horses I like for possibly finishing 4th or better are as follows, in order of post position not preference:

#5 Tapit Trice (5-1): Another Pletcher entry. Winner of this year’s Bluegrass Derby and 4 out of his 5 lifetime. Really good speed numbers and looks to be in peak form.

#8 Mage (15-1) : Runner up in the Florida Derby. His stats aren’t as good as the best here, but he likes to run up front, and I figure that’s good enough for me to include him in exotics.

#9 Skinner (20-1): Third place in Santa Anita Derby after getting bumped. He’s lost to Practical Move twice, but loves running him down. And at those odds, I think he’s worth throwing into the exotics.

#14 Angel of Empire (8-1): Winner of the Arkansas Derby and his last two races with steadily improving speed numbers after a mediocre start to his career. He’s also got a great jockey in Flavian Prat, who won the Derby in 2019 and has finished third in the last three. Trainer Brad Cox won the Derby last year, I think this horse is his best bet out of his three entries. This one is a real horse/jockey/trainer combo angle for me, and I think he ought to finish in the money.

#17 Derma Sotogake (10-1): With the scraches of both Practical Move & Skinner, I moved this guy up a notch based solely on his times in numerous races in Japan and the UAE. He’s got no speed or class numbers to compare apples to apples with the other horses, but he’s won a G2 and other stakes and just gives me a gut feeling of a horse that could finish in the money.

And also #22 Mandarin Hero (20-1) now in this thing via scratches. In the immortal words of Alphaville, he’s big in Japan. Not sure how big he’d be in Kentucky, but he was a strong second in the Santa Anita Derby, and that’s got me thinking to slot him into where I had my Practical Move pick. After all, he lost by a nose in the Santa Anita and was gaining on Practical Move at the end – another furlong might have done the trick.

So there you have it and as always, your mileage may vary. Hopefully there’ll be some happenin’ hats amongst the ladies, maybe Tom Brady will show up looking like a cartoon villain again, NBC will milk the living crap out the race with more than an hour of human interest garbage, and I will not be having a mint julep. Sorry Kentucky – love your horses and your fried chicken, but I prefer Tennessee-style whiskey to bourbon and I don’t have fresh mint around. That’s right – I’m just a CRABBY OLD KILL-JOY.

Movies Worth Seeing: Pinball, The Man Who Saved The Game (2022)

Granted, the subject matter of this movie is enough to rope me in immediately since I love old pinball machines, but even if you’re unfamiliar with the history, lore & mystique surrounding pinball machines, this film works wonderfully as a low-key optimistic movie about people making positive choices for themselves.

Yes, filmmaker brothers Austin & Meredith Bragg have taken the historic footnote story of how GQ writer Roger Sharpe helped to end the ban on pinball machines in NYC back in the 1970s and have turned it into a very entertaining tale structured as a documentary, although even that part is fictional.

Similar to American Spendor, we have a current-day Roger Sharpe talking to an off-camera director or directly to us during the narrative following the younger Roger (a wonderful Mike Faist) as he journeys from falling in love with pinball in college to a journalism career in NYC and a romance with young single mom Ellen (Crystal Reed). But unlike American Splendor which intercut the real Harvey Pekar into the Paul Giamatti version, our current day Sharpe is played by Dennis Boutsikaris, made up to appear as a dead ringer for the real Sharpe, if you care.

And it works – Boutskaris’ narration as well as his faux arguments with the director over which direction the film is heading works well comically as well as keeps a sense of the historic context of what wer’re watching. And first time fearure makers the Braggs have a fantastic visual sense – the set designs, color palette, wardrobe and especially Faist’s monster mustache give us the best visual reproducton of the mid-70s since probably Dazed & Confused. Small character roles like his fellow GQ staffers or the pinball company execs are cast perfectly with character actor who look the part – the attention to detail is mpeccable, as well as the choices made both in structuring the script and in the dialogue.

Faist & Reed also have wonderful onscreen chemistry. Faist can pull off the poignant moments as well as the comic ones, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’s a lauded stage actor when you see how well he uses his gangly body to melt into his character. This guy ought to be going onto a great acting career. His romance with Reed is cute but not saccharine, and plays into part of Sharpe’s defense of pinball to the NYC council as a game of skill and not a game of chance, which is why LaGuardia had outlawed pinball decades earlier as a gambling device.

You choose what to aim at and shoot for during a pinball game – what targets? What bonus? How will you get to the free game, or extra ball, or can you turn the machine over? With flipper skill, you can carom the ball, cradle it to perfect a shot… and like Sharpe did in his demonstration for the city council, nail a plunger shot just so in order to complete a set of targets. Sharpe applies it to life choices – the ball is always going to drain, so pick your best shot.

Sharpe went from GQ writer to pinball designer and consultant, as well as marriage with Ellen and more kids. The film depicts how the publishers gutted a lot of the history & interviews with pinball company magnates out of his 1977 coffee table book. Not sure if it ever got into a later editon, but since I own a copy of Harry McKeown’s Pinball Portfolio book from 1976, there are a lot of other books on the subject out there.

And like I said, I love old pinball machines, several of which are shown in the movie, either played or just in the background. Nerdy Jim recognized a lot of ’em, like Williams “Big Ben,” a favorite of mine back at the old Midland Mall arcade “Aladdin’s Castle” in the Rhode Island of 1976. I got a Gottlieb “Ice Revue” (1965) as a bar-mitzvah present, at a price of $150 from a vending machine seller up on Federal Hill. (Clearly no mob involvement at all. None!). It got sold when my parents sold the house and I moved across the country. Alas, I no longer have it. Recently I saw “Ice Revue” beautifully restored at a game/pool table store and the dude wanted $4500 for it. For Sharpe, the Holy Grail machine was Gottlieb’s “Cow Poke” from the same era, a machine featuring wonderful animated backglass props of a mule kicking someone. The older machines with the mechanical score reels, with the analog circuits and relays, with actual bells for sounds – are preferable to the 1980s and on electronic games with the LED scoreboards. But the playfield design and backglass art remains a wonderful time capsule of pop culture. For some guys, it’s the love of changing car designs. I prefer pinball games, I guess.

While Sharpe has a basement filled with a bunch of actual old machines, I’ll probably take the cheaper route of a virtual pinball table loaded with classic games at some point when I feel like blowing several thousand dollars on myself. That way I’ll get Ice Revue back – along with Cow Poke, Big Ben, Fireball, Kings & Queens, Eight Ball Deluxe…and anything else I can load into it.

That is, before my ball drains. Thank you and try the veal.

Two TV Shows & A Movie: Reviews

It’s been a while since I felt like there was anything worth writing about to put on here, but here I am again with some recommendations of stuff to watch.

Been spending a lot of time on domestic issues – home improvement, and acclimating my new cat (yay! kitty!) to his new surroundings, although the little bastard has pretty much acted like he owns this place since he arrived. He personifies (or cat-ifies?) the eternal riddle of cat brain: smart enough to figure out how to open every closet door in the house by jumping up and pulling the door handles, but not smart enough to figure out what glass is and how it keeps him from eating the lizards outside. When he wakes me out of bed in the wee hours with his paw banging on the windows, I’ve tried calling him a shit for brains dumbass to shame him into learning, but it’s not working. Wondering if he’s thinking I’m the shit for brains dumbass for getting out of bed whenever he does this, but I guess I’m too big a shit for brains dumbass to figure that out. If he figures out how to reprogram the autofeeder and spells out “Fuck the system” with his dry food along the floor, I’m calling the exorcist.

Ah, but your lovable king of leisure time has some streaming recommenations for ya.

First up is a spankin’ new documentary that came out a couple of weeks ago but somehow is already available free via Hoopla, The Mojo Manifesto (2023), a very entertaining straightforward documentary on the career of Mojo Nixon. I’m sure y’all remember Mojo’s biggest radio hit “Elvis Is Everywhere,” and this doc covers his entire career interspliced with clips from a present day interview showing that the older, grayer and heavier Mojo is still exactly the same loud mouth obscene hilarious guy he’s always been. The film begins in the middle of the story – after Mojo split from his longtime music partner Skid Roper. Their falling out must still sting since Skid refused to take part in this documentary, but it seems like everyone else Mojo has ever worked with eagerly takes part & still works with the guy. He’s had the same manager forever & has been married for over thirty years – and maybe it’s my own prejudice but whenever a music/movie celeb has a track record like that and is as brutally honest-not-give-a-shit the way Mojo is, I gotta think the problem here is with Skid. Anyway – lots of fun clips here and snippets of Mojo’s music – my only beef with this film was that no complete song is ever featured or spotlit, but I guess that’s what digging out the old record collection or youtube is for. Watching this brought back some nice memories of seeing Mojo & Skid live back in the late ’80s, a very funny show and also a revelation that those guys are actually pretty adept musicians. One of my favorite Mojo stories is included only over the end credits, however: after putting out the song “Don Henley Must Die,” Henley turned up at one of Mojo’s concerts. And to his everlasting credit, Henley got up on stage surprising Mojo and singing the song with him. Only Morrissey doing that to Mojo’s rockabilly cover of “Girlfriend in a Coma” might top that, I guess.

Currently running on AMC is Lucky Hank, an 8 episode adaptation of the novel “Straight Man” by Richard Russo staring Bob Oedenkirk as English prof Hank Devereaux Jr, an academic shlub at a small mediocrity (his own words) of a college, dealing with the various struggles in his life – mostly in his long-absent father retiring from the fame and success of Columbia and NYC to move to the same small town. This plays out a lot like Alexander Payne Lite, in that it focuses mostly on people who are mired in failure, but once I got past the first episode, which I thought magnified the cringe factor a bit too much, the show has gotten better. The supporting characters of other professors and students and family members have been developed more, and while the tone has been maintained, a major difference between this show and the kind of material Payne lives in (Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, etc.) is that the show likes the characters and adds a humane touch. In episode 1 I thought this show would go in the Payne-like direction of making the entire show about the moral failing & weakness of the characters, which is always the prevailing theme in his films. He’s one of the only directors who hates people who makes movies I like, by the way. Oedenkirk is good here, especially in his darkly sarcastic one-liner replies to the characters around him when he’s the only one in the room acknowledging reality. The storyline, true to the novel, unfolds slowly – the pressures of both Hank’s job and his wife’s assistant principal job are handled adeptly, and the open and honest nature of their marital discussions is very refreshing TV. Hank’s family story with his parents lies at the center, so no spoilers here. Different academic “types” are satirized a lot, as well as the sorts of petty faculty rivalries and fights over nothing that I know about all too well after my decades in that venue. Maybe that’s why I like this show. Making fun of academia in the small-failure setting is a genre that turns up a lot in novels since they’re all written by English profs who take the teaching jobs since their novels might get critical wows or log rolling but don’t make a lot of money (ahem. Go up to “Buy My Books” and hit those amazon links, ya plebes). Russo has had commercial success with a lot of his work however, but clearly understands the world he’s writing about. While the novel came out in the 1990s and the campus has changed a lot (and for the worse) since, not a whole lot needed to be updated here.

For Jimmy The Foodieâ„¢, I got a rec to check out The Bear, an eight episode first series of a dark dramedy due for a second season of ten episodes this coming June. Jeremy Allen White stars as Carmy, a chef from the French Laundry world of snob cuisine who returns to run his families’ old beef sammich shop in Chicago after his brother commits suicide. This was another show that took me a few episodes to get into – the opener felt like people yelling at each other in a chaotic atmosphere for a solid thirty minutes and not much else – but as later episodes go on, the supporting characters of the restaurant staff and the backstory of the family, of him, and of all sorts of stuff with the supporting characters are drawn out very well and it becomes very engrossing. I’m not sure why this show is considered a comedy by all the awards categories in Hollywood – there are funny moments and lines, but the situations themselves are very real and it feels way more like a character drama. It’s very well done – acting, directing and story structuring within episodes and with the overall season arc are solid. There’s a lot of cooking/food stuff in here as well, especially with Carmy’s new sous chef hire Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and his ambitious baker Marcus (Lionel Boyce). Ebon Moss-Bachrach is also wonderful at making his cousin Richie character into an annoying asshole but who you feel sympathy for.

Wait, did I tell you to buy my books? I got a cat to feed, y’know.

Some Pork Recipes

For the last few months, those weekly supermarket flyers have been bereft of chicken on sale, to say the least. At first I thought it was because I’d moved to a different part of the country, but no – turns out that the non-surplus of chicken is a national thing and has been for some time. Part supply chain crapola, part bird flu – those regular rotating sales of chicken parts for one or two bucks a pound are now a fond memory.

And what DOES turn up on sale repeatedly in those flyers? Pork.

I’ve never really cooked a lot with pork. No special reason, really, I don’t keep kosher (and all the shellfish recipes on this blog are a reminder of that), but I never had a lot of experience cooking with pork. But as much as I find pigs adorable and feel bad for ’em, they are certainly delicious. So I started out basically substituting pork for chicken in some recipes, and altering the spices in some others, and came up with the following dishes that work pretty well & appeal to my CHEAPNESS whenever I probe those weekly specials.

Substituting boneless pork tenderloin for boneless chicken was the simplest switch, although you have to treat the pork more like chicken breast than chicken thigh or leg meat. It’ll cook quicker and dry out on you if you’re not careful. All of the following recipes come from using those shrinkwrapped boneless pork loins that come in three to five pound logs, except for the last one which uses boneless pork shoulder.

First order of business for me is to cut the log into portion sections of 3/4 to a pound apiece. Trim the fat, and they’re ready to use or freeze easily.

Pork parmigiana – Easiest substitution EVAH – take one of those portions, cut lengthwise into two even chops and then pound them to about 1/4 inch thick. Then they got parmagianed the same as anything else: salt/pepper ’em, dust with flour, egg wash, coated with seasoned breadcrumbs, basil & some grated Parmesan/Romano cheese. Pan fried in olive oil until about 75-80% done, then topped with mozzarella & a couple of spoonfuls of marinara and into a 350 oven for 10 minutes. That’s it. Put the sauce on top of the cheese – that way the cutlets will retain their crispness & you’ll still get the cheese/sauce/crisp coating/porn flavor.

Another simply substitution was to cut a portion into 1/2 inch slices and substitute it for chicken in an easy spicy Chinese pork stir fry. Marinate in a tsp of soy, tsp of sherry & tsp of cornstarch. Sauce: 4 tsp soy, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1-2 tsp hot pepper paste, 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbs honey. Stir fry the porn with a tsp of chopped garlic and a tsp of chopped ginger, add whatever vegetables you want, then add the sauce. Give it a hit of toasted sesame oil off heat. Done.

An easy pork noodle dish: cut up the pork into 1/4 inch pieces, and marinate it 2 tsp soy, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1 tbs sherry and 1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper. Precook and undercook some spaghetti – for 10 minute spaghetti, I’ll drain it after 6 minutes and put aside. Stir fry 2-3 chopped garlic cloves and red pepper to taste, then add the pork and cook until browned. Add vegetables after – some shredded carrot, small broccoli pieces, pea pods, sprouts -whatever. Then add 3 tbs soy, 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or 1 tsp honey) and 3/4 cup of water or better – use chicken broth. Put the noodles on top of this mixture and cover for 5 minutes over low-medium. Then stir and toss until all the liquid is absorbed by the now finished noodles. You can also add 1 tbs oyster sauce to this with nice results.

Easy BBQ pork chops – I cut a portion lengthwise into what becomes a pair of boneless pork chops. Into my cast iron skillet with a homemade bbq sauce of 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup water, 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs worcestershire, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 white pepper and 1 tbs honey. Just pour the sauce over the pork. Into a 375 oven. In 15 minutes, flip the chops and recoat with he sauce in the pan, then back in for another 15 minutes. That’s it.

For pork stew, I’ll use the boneless pork shoulder and cube it up the same as I would a beef chuck roast. I like using a slow cooker for stews. I’ll season the cut up pork with salt, white pepper, paprika and garlic powder, then brown with some olive oil before adding some chopped garlic and two tbs of tomato paste. Cook that through to toast the paste enough, and into a slow cooker with an onion chopped into chunks, some chunked carrot, a can of chicken broth, a can of chopped tomato, a few sprigs of rosemary and EITHER enough of a good beer to cover OR a good red wine. Add a teaspoon of salt for the tomatoes, and a few bay leaves. Slow cook on high for 2-3 hours, and then add a cubed sweet potato before finishing on low for another hour. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Season to taste. Add other herbs if you want. See if I care.

Are those enough pork recipes from this Jew? Oy vey, I hope so. I’d always been led to believe that pork was not good for you due to the fat content, but if you trim the fat, the meat itself is very lean. And lard is not as unhealthy a fat as people think, compared to some of the other stuff out there.

And pigs are still cute and smarter than cats or dogs, and I feel kinda bad whenever I eat them. But they are delicious.

Clean House On This NY Yankee Crapshow

Wreck it. Wreck it to the ground and rebuild. This Yankee configuration is just a dumpster fire.

And speaking of fire…

Fire Boone. Fire Cashman. Fire the hitting coaches. Fire the training & conditioning staff. Execute the analytics people by firing squad.

Cashman builds a roster of homerun or nothing hitters who strikeout more often than not. The hitting coaches encourage this with garbage like launch angles and velocity. The training & conditioning staff preside over one of the most perennially injured teams in the sport, especially driving pitchers to the Tommy John list. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nestor Cortez join that list in the next few days. Get rid of Boone since he’s part of the old regime & is only there to carry out whatever the spreadsheet says anyway.

Try to unload Stanton despite the contract. Get rid of Hicks, Donaldson, Higashioka, Kiner-Felefa, and possibly LeMeheiu since they can’t hit. Deal Torres while you can still get something for him. Get rid of Montas. The rest of the pitching, if healthy, is still decent.

Re-sign Judge. Keep Rizzo & all the young talent coming up like Cabrera, Peraza, Florial, etc. Add contact hitters, spray hitters, hitters with speed and coach them to hit for contact, get balls in play, anything. Run the bases, hit and run, play small ball to mess with pitchers.

Did I mention setting the analytics staff on fire, or was it lethal injection? Never mind.

Get a hitting coach who thinks like Rod Carew. Get a manager who is a clubhouse leader commanding respect who actually manages a game without being micromanaged by numbers schmucks. Get a general manager who knows how to maintain this style of baseball in the lineup. And hire training and conditioning people who – get this, it’s such a novel idea – KEEP PLAYERS HEALTHY AND AVOID INJURIES.

It’s been painful to watch this team suck since July. Judge’s season was the only bright spot. He was the only reason they even made it into the post-season where I sat there knowing in my little heart of hearts that erratic hitting & an injury decimated bullpen would add up to losing a series, if not in the divisional then definitely to Houston, who had owned them all year.

And they won’t do any of the things I’ve written about here. The current set up is profitable. They’re competitive enough to sell tickets & merch and provide fans with season after season of false hope. They can rely on longtime loyalty to keep people from bailing.

I’ve been a fan for over 50 years. I’m old and angry and tired. I might also be bailing if this garbage continues. I’m not married to any team (especially now that Jeter’s gone, the sex just isn’t the same & there are no gift baskets).

I am also not so entitled as a fan that I think the Yankees should win the World Series every year like in the 1950s. I’m realistic about how the game works now. But I’m just fed up with such predictable failure along consistent lines year after year and then seeing the underlying issues go unaddressed by the same failing people in the decision making positions.

Fire. Them. All.

A House Full Of Books = Tsundoku

When I moved across the country recently, the final tally of books was 43 boxes worth. And that was after giving away the equivalent of about a dozen more boxes’ worth to friends and colleagues.

People who come to my house often browse through the numerous bookcases and inevitably ask me “Have you read all these?” and the answer is “I think I’ve read close to half of them, the other half are in the queue.” Every so often I’d go through an inventory of sorts of what I’ve read, what I haven’t, what I’ll read again or what I’ll always want to keep around. And then the straining task of culling what I have to admit to myself that I will never read – something I’ll do every year or so – and then boxing it up to pass along to some other book hunter by donating to the thrift store or library.

And why the thinning of the book collection? Why, to make room for MORE books gathered at those very same library sales, thrift stores, or the occasional yard sale. There’s a library sale this Saturday I’m planning on as I write this.

I came across this article today about the value of having a house filled with to-be-read books and it certainly spoke to my existence. The central idea is that all the unread books are constant reminders of everything we do not know but can learn in our eternal quest for knowledge, and I like that. The Japanese term for it is “tsondoku.” The books make us smart and keep us humble all at the same time, perfect for Yom Kippur I guess, which begins tonight. So nice timing on that article,!

The 2022 Yankee Season

Watching this team since July has been like watching a multicar accident in slow motion, with all the cars filled with kittens.

This team SUCKS.

There’s no other way to put it. They are well on their way to a historic collapse on the level of the ’64 Phillies, ’78 Red Sox & ’07 Mets. Everything went their way during the first half while they mostly bet up on weaker teams, and in the second half their bats (except for Judge) have gone dead & the pitching staff, ONCE AGAIN, is racked by injuries due to a training/conditioning staff that inexplicably never gets fired despite multiple injuries EVERY. YEAR.

This article sums up the problems & needed solutions nicely. And after reading it, I feel pretty confident that the only thing on this guy’s list that might happen is #3 “The Kids Must Contribute.” Maybe the Oswald-Oswaldo twins and Florial will step up, but it’s a big if. The article points out how Judge has been a “one-man army” for the Yankees. He’s flirting with breaking the Maris home run mark, which in my eyes makes him the single-season record holder since he’d be the only player to pass Maris without using PEDs of some sort. But it’s an empty thing, akin to Mike Trout or Ohtani piling up amazing individual stats while their team sits in the basement. Judge has been the only fun thing for me to watch this year, but anytime I hear he’s hit another homer, I don’t have to look at the line score to know it was a solo shot. No one else is getting on base, and when they do, there’s always someone in a slump ready in whatever random position in the line-up Boone or his math masters have programmed to step up and hit into a rally-killing double play.

It was fun for me in 1978 to be on the other end of this, watching the Yankees climb back from a 14 1/2 game deficit and win it all. I got to attend this beaut at Fenway about this time that year, Guidry’s 2 hit shutout & a very bad inning for Eckersley which brought the Yanks within 1 game. All 7 runs scored without a single home run. That’s what’s known as a hitting rally, where lots of guys in the lineup all get base hits, not just homers or strikeouts. If the defense tried some lopsided shift, they’d hit away from it or lay down a bunt for an easy cheap single, and that defensive strategy would be abandoned, go figure. Current hitting coaches might want to study up on it.

They’d beat the Sox the next day to tie the division. 14 1/2 game deficit erased.

It’s only a matter of time before the Rays do the same thing to this year’s Yankees, only they won’t be playing them at the time. Some other AL squad will help them out, it’s only a matter of who.

The Yankees built up enough of a lead to probably wind up in the wild card, but they have one-and-done written all over them.

And then what?

Fire Boone? Sure, why not. Then fill the spot with another middle-management cipher to carry out whatever the analytics say.

It’ll take more than that. Fire the hitting coach & hire Rod Carew or someone who thinks like him. Contact hitting, spray hitting, no more “launch angle” and “hit velocity” bullshit. Get guys on the bases, distract the pitchers & get them home. Bring in a manager who’d be a fiery clubhouse leader, command actual decision making authority & not take crap from anyone. Even though he seems to be loving retirement, I’d love to see CC Sabathia give that a shot.

Can we fire Cashman & Steinbrenner too? Can we bring back Gene Michael and Bob Watson who built the 90s dynasty when they had a free hand?

Can I win the powerball right after my torrid love affair with the sudden incarnation of 25 year old Ava Gardner who just showed up at my door with a bottle of bourbon & two glasses?

Probably not. I won’t get ANY of those things. And Ava’s gotten a little surly after that bourbon and threw the empty bottle at me. I think she’s going back to Frank.

Nothing to look forward to in the remaining games.

Oh WAIT – football is back!

Oh WAIT – Nothing to look forward to with the Patriots this year either. At least I expect them to suck, especially after watching them in pre-season. I guess I’ll enjoy Tom Brady’s last hurrah, although he’ll probably play until he’s in his 70s.

Gotta get another cat. They never disappoint you.

Divine Intervention Is Needed To Help My Yankees

Live look at the Yankees, post all-star break

What happened?


It’s tough to figure out how a team that was on pace to set records for wins could fall apart as badly as the Yankees have in the past month. Back in June, they were looking like they’d win over 110 games. In the past month, they’ve lost series after series, blown leads, or simply gotten pounded.

Every game, something else goes wrong – if they get a solid start out of Cole or Taillon, the bullpen promptly comes in & gives it away. If they get solid pitching throughout, they kill every hitting rally with double plays and lose 2-0.

They were well on their way to blowing yet another game last night against Tampa after FINALLY coming back to tie things up, followed by Chapman walking the bases loaded in the 10th before giving up a bases-clearing double, followed by getting saved by Donaldson’s walk-off grand slam… you’d think that might change the momentum?

Nope. Tonight against the Jays, Mantas gave up a 5 spot in the 2nd inning and you could feel the soul of the team just DIE once again.

And why? Was the first half an easier schedule? Could only a couple of key injuries like Michael King or Giancarlo Stanton going out have this much of an effect? Dunno, but if this continues this will be a monumental, historic season collapse that will be judged alongside teams like the ’64 Phillies, ’78 Red Sox or thd ’07 Mets. I can’t blame Boone as much as I’ve never been a big fan of him as manager – he’s only punching checkmarks in the spreadsheets the analytics clowns give him.

They’re the ones who need to go.

Adding Benintendi was a good move – a spray hitter in the LeMehieu mode who isn’t another homerun or strikeout hitter, the kind the sport keeps pumping out – hitters so locked in to specific mechanics that they supposedly can’t adjust against defensive shifts. So – coach hitters to be better? NO! Outlaw the shift!

Someone tar & feather Manfred.

Make Rod Carew baseball commissioner. Read this WSJ article where Carew accurately points out the problems with today’s hitters. When will baseball listen to him?

Probably about the time the Yankees turn things around.


Always Judge A Book By Its Cover

I made a new cover for the first entry in my Professor Wagstaff mystery series. I got sick of the old one, it seemed a bit too generic. Not that I’m some sort of genius in graphic design by any means, but not too bad for a concoction of royalty-free images, eh?

You realize that this makes all copies with the original cover WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Click on the “Books I’ve Written” tab up top for more. I need the money.

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